Tag Archives: Bob Messinger

Jenni Spiro’s empowering rock song ‘Hey You’ to close ‘Over the Line’

The moment I heard ‘Hey You,’ I knew this was the song that had to accompany the dramatic closing scene of our film! Its riveting message and driven performance combine with the final shot for the movie’s perfect ending.

Jenni Spiro has made quite the reputation for herself as a performer here in New Jersey as well as up and down the east coast. Her writing is powerful, and her guttural delivery is reminiscent of artists like Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge.

Regionally, Jenni has rocked out regularly with the popular Jersey band The Benjamins. She also performs solo and duo acoustic gigs along the east coast.

A native of Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jenni was born into a musical family. Her father is the keyboard player/vocalist for The Nerds, and her mother is bassist and lead vocalist for several Jersey-based bands. Jenni’s talent was first chronicled at the age of three by a reporter who saw her singing pitch-perfect covers atop a milk crate. By the age of seven, she was writing songs. And by 15, she had already mastered the bass and acoustic guitar.

Jenni Spiro joins a talented New Jersey/New York cast and crew that includes director/producer Mathieu Abric, score composer Landon Knoblock, and actors Stacey Van Gorder,  Cronin Cullen and Saba.

A co-production with Cloudy Sky Films, “Over the Line” is a dark comedy about a woman facing a self-imposed judgment day with wit and irreverence.

The script for “Over the Line” has won numerous screenplay competitions. Currently in the final stages of post-production, the film will be seen at film festivals during the second half of 2018 and throughout 2019 as a prelude to distribution.

Listen now to Jenni Spiro’s “Hey You” at Reverb Nation.

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Image caption:
Jenni Spiro’s song “Hey You” has been tapped to close the film “Over the Line,” currently in post-production.

Closing in on the completion of our second film!

We’re about a month away from a final cut of “Over the Line,” our second short film!

So much was learned during the making of these two movies…not only about the process, but also about what it’s like working with different partners, collaborators, actors and crew. It’s become so obvious that no two film projects will ever be alike, for better or worse! But that’s an entirely different blog entry to follow in a couple of weeks. Right now, I just want to catch everyone up on the status of film #2:

Since shooting was completed in March, “Over the Line” has been in a constant state of post production! As you may recall, we shot the film entirely on green screen. To date, here’s what’s been accomplished:

• A preliminary rough cut was assembled. This was quite a task, as we never had the entire cast on set at one time! Yet, under our director’s supervision, everything flows so smoothly!

• The green screen was then removed.

• The background was then shot separately.

• Another rough cut was then assembled with backgrounds in place.

• And a final rough cut was edited just last week.

Here’s what happens next:

• Landon Knoblock has signed on to compose the original score. He will sit down next week with me and co-producer Shari Spiro to “spot” the rough cut for music.

• Saba, our director and editor, will perform color correction, sound editing, ADR and sound mixing while Landon composes and records the score.

• Once these steps are completed, the score will be edited in, as will the credits and the closing song, written and performed by popular New Jersey rocker Jenni Spiro.

A more detailed post as described above will be published soon. In the meantime, please visit the film’s website at www.overtheline-movie.com for cast and crew info as well as a full gallery of shooting images.

P.S.–It’s come to my attention that I have not been receiving all of the emails sent through this site. I am in the process of troubleshooting the problem. In the meantime, if you have written and have not received a reply from me, contact me directly at RMMessinger@gmail.com with “WORD PRESS” in the message bar. Sorry for any inconvenience!

‘Dongmei’ is trending on indiegogo!

Having raised 31 percent of its funding goal in fewer than three days, ‘Dongmei’ is now trending on the crowdfunding site indiegogo.com.

‘Dongmei’ is a short film written and produced by Bob Messinger, a New York-area screenwriter, and directed and executive produced by Cedric Hill, also a New York filmmaker. The project is a joint production of Messinger’s Where’s the Lake Productions and Hill’s To and Fro Productions.

Dongmei is a Chinese woman who ends up in the psych ward after fending off a couple of thugs and then inexplicably attacking the responding police officers. The story is an intense, psychological thriller written to keep audiences guessing throughout. It’s an extreme battle of wits between an intelligent, somewhat wise-ass, medicated and unwilling patient who’s adept at turning a conversation and a psychiatrist who’s overly confident he has what it takes to connect with her. The doctor’s confidence starts to falter, however, as the session intensifies and his combative patient takes charge, interspersing vividly descriptive and surprising accounts of her past with perfectly timed personal attacks on her new sparring partner. Even after the doctor seemingly regains control of the session, forcing Dongmei to face some hazy and painful images, it’s not unreasonable to expect the tables to be turned again to achieve an unexpected and powerful ending that will leave audiences questioning what was real and what wasn’t.

Auditions are scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, in a midtown New York studio. The casting call resulted in close to 100 responses. Principal photography is scheduled to begin on August 1.

To see how the project is trending, go to www.indiegogo.com, click the “See What’s Trending” link at the top, then click on the “Film” link. Or to go directly to the project’s page, go to http://igg.me/at/dongmei.

The journey continues! Cedric Hill named director and executive producer of ‘Dongmei’.

by BOB MESSINGER

Not only is Plan B falling into place, it coming together at a feverish pace, thanks in large part to our new director and executive director, Cedric Hill. Cedric is a 15-year film veteran and an instructor at the New York Film Academy.

As I’ve noted in this blog, I’ve learned so much from the last two crowdfunding campaigns, but perhaps the biggest lesson gained is that maybe I’d tried to do too much too soon. Perhaps trying to do a feature film the first time around rather than something smaller was a bit ambitious. Before people are going to fork over $75,000, they probably want proof that I can do what I say I can do.

Just to recap a bit, I’ve decided to do just that…write and produce a short film. My Plan B.

My original idea was to do it on absolutely no budget, using my Canon EOS and editing it myself. That may have been scaling things back too much. After meeting Cedric and absorbing his feedback, I’ve decided to do this project on a micro-budget of $5000 this time around…quite a bit less than my original $75,000 goal, wouldn’t you say? Every participant is donating his or her time and talent in exchange for film credit. There will still be costs, however… primarily equipment rentals, minimal travel expenses, a few props, craft services, film festival fees, marketing and a few other miscellaneous expenses.

So yes, here I go again, asking friends, family, acquaintances and complete strangers to be a part of this project, which has already received great reviews from people in the industry. As I point out in my just-launched indiegogo campaign, thanks to all the new avenues of distribution, quality projects that never would have been made before are being enjoyed by millions! This is due in great part by artists whose compelling motivation is to create and get their works out into the world and by supporters who believe creative energy should never be wasted.
I also point out on the campaign page that participation in the project not only helps us make a better film, it also contributes to the overall health of the art community and places supporters among the growing list of new media pioneers.

So the journey continues! If you get a chance, check out our website.

Plan B is officially under way! Searching for crew on Mandy.com

by BOB MESSINGER

It’s been a little over a month since I revealed “Plan B,” my proposal to make a no-budget, short film to further bolster my credentials (http://indiefilmmakercommune.com/?p=115).

The script has been polished, thanks in large part to suggestions made by my very capable readers. And now I am ready to start putting together a crew who would be willing to work with me on an unpaid basis for three consecutive weekends.

Why, you ask, would anyone be willing to work on a film for no pay? As pointed out by Mandy.com, the premier database of film and TV technicians and facilities on the web, aspiring filmmakers such as myself are often willing to lend their efforts in order to strengthen their credits for future work.

Because of Mandy.com’s recognized dedication and success in helping to get projects made, and because they typically record five million impressions per month, I have opted to begin my search for a crew through a posting on their web site.

The Mandy project description (which should be posted by May 4, 2015) reads as follows:

Award-winning screenwriter wants to produce a 20-minute, no-budget short drama for festival submissions. One single location (an office) with multiple quick flashbacks to be shot guerrilla-style at easily accessible locations. Estimate entire shoot to be 2-3 weekends this summer in or around Parsippany, NJ. Looking for a small crew for all functions (DP and sound crew should have own equipment or have access to such). College film students on break would be perfect, ideally a crew that has worked together. I will edit but am open to editing assistance. My plan is to direct, but I am also open to relinquishing those duties as well to the proper person. Also seeking primary acting talent…female patient (40-ish), Chinese; male (40) to play a psychiatrist who is not shown onscreen during his interaction with the female patient. Other non-speaking actors needed for quick flashback sequences. All positions unpaid with screen credits.

So please pass this information along to anyone you know who might be interested in helping me make this short film!

It may be unpaid, but I will definitely do my best to feed everyone very well!

We’ve launched on Seed&Spark!

by BOB MESSINGER
@bobmessinger01

A few months back, I posted my intentions of switching to the crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark to re-launch my film project. To recap the reasons for my decision:

1. Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform strictly for independent film projects.
2. They provide an in-depth Social Media Handbook and other helpful materials.
3. As a selective platform, Seed&Spark does not allow filmmakers to launch an inferior or minimally prepared project.
4. Unlike Kickstarter’s “all-or-nothing” platform, Seed&Spark works on “80%-or-nothing,” noting that “Every indie filmmaker knows how to make that scene work with a little less money…”
5. Seed&Spark has a streaming video distribution platform as well as a partnership with Amex NOW for selected licensed distribution.
6. Seed&Spark lets filmmakers request non-monetary contributions such as camera, wardrobe and lighting rentals.
7. 70% of films that crowdfund on Seed&Spark get funded, compared to only 40% on Kickstarter.
8. Seed&Spark’s fee is lower than any other crowdfunding site.

Since my initial post, I have spent hours poring over Seed&Spark’s “Awesome Downloads,” which include documents on crowdfunding to build independence, prep and campaign schedule templates, and, of course, their detailed social media handbook.

Well, I did re-launch on Seed&Spark a few days ago, and the experience so far has been even better that I’d anticipated!

After my initial submission, I received an in-depth campaign critique from Seed&Spark Director of Crowdfunding and Community Erica Anderson. I’m not talking about a few lines of suggestions. I’m talking about paragraphs of well-written, to-the-point, knowledgeable and convincing feedback. With Erica’s ongoing help, I performed three edits to my pitch video, taking it from an unruly six minutes to a manageable three minutes (to be honest, she would have preferred that I’d have edited out another minute).

Erica responded to my correspondence within hours, each time providing more and more guidance.

The only recommendation I didn’t take was to postpone my launch until after the holidays. I do agree with prevailing research that there is too much social media competition to sustain a holiday campaign. That’s why I’ve selected a 45-day rather than a 30-day campaign. I’ve decided to use the first 15 days to tie into my regular hard-copy holiday mailings to friends and family, and then focus on social media after the holidays (as a marketer who has worked both tech and pre-tech campaigns, I still find value in breaking through the clutter with old-fashioned, personal mailings).

Seed&Spark is truly a selective platform. It’s become so obvious to me that their prime purpose for being isn’t to cash in on the crowdfunding craze. They are independent filmmakers who are dedicated to their craft and who want to see good films get made and distributed.

I recommend that all filmmakers considering the crowdfunding route check out Seed&Spark.

And while you’re at it, please check out my campaign at www.seedandspark.com/studio/it-aint-no-sin. Your support through a contribution and recommending the project to friends and colleagues would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve decided to use Seed&Spark to re-launch my crowdfunding campaign!

by BOB MESSINGER
@bobmessinger01

Don’t get me wrong…Kickstarter is a phenomenal crowdfunding platform! It’s just that, after careful research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the relatively new platform Seed&Spark is best suited to meet the needs of my particular film project for the following reasons:

1. Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform strictly for film projects. I believe this will work well for me on several levels. It will help me better attract niche supporters who care about independent film. It will help separate my project from the clutter of non-film projects on the other sites. And, because the Seed&Spark staff deals only with film projects, my belief is that their specialized support will assist me in running a truly effective campaign.

2. I’ve never claimed to be a social media guru, and I believe that was a major detriment to my Kickstarter efforts. Seed&Spark stresses social media, as do most of the other crowdfunding platforms. But unlike most other sites, they back up the importance of social media by providing an in-depth Social Media Handbook, which has armed me with greater insight than I had when I launched my last campaign.

3. Seed&Spark is a selective platform. They will not allow me to launch a campaign for an inferior product or to launch a minimally prepared project. If they feel my project is lacking in any respect, they will provide tips on how to make it a viable one. Nobody enjoys rejection, but I’d rather be given the opportunity to make my project the best that it can be before launch. And because Seed&Spark is a selective platform, I believe their users feel more comfortable supporting projects on their site.

4. Whereas Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, and Indigogo will allow me to keep whatever I raise even if it is nowhere enough to complete my project, Seed&Spark is an “80%-or-nothing” platform. I am quite comfortable with this. If I can raise at least 80%, I know I will be able to get the film made. As the Seed&Spark website points out, “Every indie filmmaker knows how to make that scene work with a little less money…”

5. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, Seed&Spark has a streaming video distribution platform for me to offer my film for public viewing. They also have a partnership with Amex NOW, a channel reaching 67 million homes, for selected licensed distribution. I don’t know at this time that I’ll take advantage of these programs, but it is nice to know that they exist!

6. Seed&Spark lets me request non-monetary contributions such as camera, wardrobe and lighting rentals. This allows me to best use all cash contributions I may receive and may also act as an incentive for supporters who may not be in a position to contribute cash, but may be able to contribute an item needed to complete the film.

7. 70% of films that crowdfund on Seed&Spark get funded, compared to only 40% of projects on Kickstarter. I like those odds.

8. And I’m saving the best reason for last: Seed&Spark’s fee is lower than any other crowdfunding site I’ve researched. They take 5% of all money pledged, but they also offer supporters an opportunity to add 5% to their order to keep the filmmaker from losing that money. And according to Seed&Spark, 90% of supporters choose to add that 5%. Plus, Seed&Spark won’t compel me to set up an outside payment account, which usually requires administration fees beyond the normal credit card fees.

So right now, it seems like a no-brainer to submit to Seed&Spark.

I’d be grateful to hear your opinions on selecting a crowdfunding site.

Independent Film Festival Stresses Writer Empowerment (Re-post)

By BOB MESSINGER

@bobmessinger01

(I am re-posting this article from last September. The Indie Gathering International Film Festival is happening again this coming weekend, and I highly recommend it).

I am a veteran attendee of mammoth Hollywood screenwriting conferences and seminars. I’ve sat opposite hundreds of agency and studio readers in nerve-wracking, five-minute pitch festival sessions. I’ve entered scores of screenwriting competitions and have even won my fair share. And I’ve spent thousands of dollars participating in these events, not to mention the cost of air travel, meals and hotels.

I don’t regret a single penny’s worth of expense for having taken part in these activities. They have made me a much better writer, and each one of my scripts has greatly benefited from these combined experiences.

However, like most other “novice” writers who faithfully attend conferences and sometimes win contests, I’ve yet to have had an agent or a studio ask to see a winning script or to have heard back from an “interested” pitch-fest representative.

Still, I always return from these sessions energized and ready to write.

I had that same energized feeling upon returning home from the recent Indie Gathering International Film Festival in Hudson, OH. But I also experienced an additional, much stronger reaction as a result of attending this amazing gathering right outside of Cleveland. I also returned home with a sense of empowerment.

Indie Gathering participants are filmmakers, writers and actors who have taken their fates into their own hands. They understand the odds against being blessed with the rare, big-studio, fairy-tale success story. They know that their work has value. They know that they are the only ones who, in the long run, will make their stories come alive.

The Indie Gathering attendees are some of the most-passionate, most-unpretentious and most-talented filmmakers I have ever met. And the proof is in their films. This year’s festival featured about 100 independent shorts and features of tremendous caliber, many of which are headed for some form of distribution.

About the Indie Gathering

The Indie Gathering is probably one of the most-informal, yet-highly-organized, film festivals I’ve ever attended. It is expertly run by independent producer Ray Szuch (who has an amazing Muhammed Ali story) and the lovely and energetic Kristina Michelle (who, besides being an actor, is an accomplished dancer, teacher, writer, producer, first degree-black belt, stunt woman and TV host).

They are perhaps the most-approachable organizers I’ve personally experienced. They are always happy to talk, point you in the right direction, introduce you to the festival’s honored guests, and join you in the restaurant after hours for a drink.

In addition to the screenings, the festival includes seminars, lectures and panel discussions on topics including writing, pre- and post-production, acting, editing, scoring, technology, photography, FX, cameras…and unlike similar programs at other festivals, all sessions were from a decidedly independent point of view.

Writers Reinventing Themselves

The screenwriting panel discussion is the one which I found most energizing and empowering. Almost the entire panel was made up of filmmakers who had decided that the only way to get their films made was to produce them themselves. Interestingly, not all panel members were originally writers but found that they had to reinvent themselves to make things happen.

For example, one panel member named Saba, an accomplished New York actor and dancer (who, by the way, was also a winner in the festival’s screenplay competition two years running) had decided that the only way he was going to get meaningful screen jobs was to create roles for himself. As a result, he formed Cloudy Sky Films to produce and direct various shorts and web series. He has just completed filming “Snow,” his first independent feature, which he wrote, directed, produced and in which he stars.

A panel discussion attendee, Mara Lesemann from Jersey City, NJ, seemed to agree that producing your own work is the way to go. Her first-ever writing award was earned at a prior Indie Gathering festival, and her first feature film “Surviving Family” earned last year’s Viewers’ Choice Award at the Indie Gathering. “Surviving Family” is also scheduled for a Redbox release this fall.

No Longer an Impossible Task

The overall impression I was left with after attending multiple sessions and after viewing as many screenings as I could fit in was that being in charge of one’s own creative destiny is no longer an impossible task. Technology has made filming, production and editing less complicated than ever. Technology has made it easy to build a network of skilled people who can help us learn and find the resources we need. Technology has created the ability for us to go online to fund our projects. And technology has created an environment in which we don’t need the big screen to have our work seen by large audiences.

I was also left with the impression that the community of independent filmmakers is indeed a friendly one that genuinely cares about its members and is willing to share.

I have had two screenwriting competition wins at the Indie Gathering…one last year in the feature comedy/drama category, and one this year in the feature drama category. I have snail mailed and emailed more than 200 press releases about each win. Still, my in-box remains void of interest from agents and studios.

Would I turn down a submission request from an agent or studio? Of course not! But I don’t intend to sit by the phone any longer. And I thank the Indie Gathering International Film Festival for fueling my empowerment.

Check out the Indie Gathering at http://www.theindiegathering.com

Los Angeles film and TV actress Ana Harrison signs on for leading role in “Gymful Remembrances”

Ana Harrison is heading to New Jersey.

Ana HarrisonNo, she’s not abandoning Hollywood for the Garden State (although she just might consider relocating once she sees all that Jersey has to offer), but she is coming to north Jersey to star in a movie for Bob Messinger’s new film company, Where’s the Lake Productions.

She has agreed to take the female lead in Messinger’s film “Gymful Remembrances,” currently in pre-production.

Ms. Harrison has had co-starring and principal roles in television programs such as Warner Brothers’ “Felicity,” NBC’s “Love’s Deadly Triangle,” USA’s “Face in the Mirror” and Jerry Peterson’s “Gamers” among others.

Her feature film career includes principal and leading roles in classic independent movies including “Wassup Rockers,” Sundance favorite “EMR,” 2008′s “Reflections,” “My Roommate Larry,” and the soon-to-be-released comedy/horror feature “Get Dead.”

Ms. Harrison holds a BA in Theater Arts from Texas Tech University and has studied dance with Diana Moore. She has also studied under Second City, Toni Cobb, Larry Moss Studios and others.

“Ana is perfect for this role,” says Messinger, and with good reason.

“I actually wrote the role with her in mind, but I never dreamed in a million years that she would come to New Jersey to take it…not with her busy schedule,” he explains.

Messinger and Ms. Harrison met at a trade show in San Francisco in 2003. The company he was working for at the time hired the actress to work with them at the show.

“I was taken aback by her talent, honesty, dedication to her work and zest for life,” says Messinger.

“At that time, I had written several screenplays,” continues Messinger, “but I’d stopped because I’d become discouraged at the impossibility of getting anything read. But Ana’s dedication to her art was contagious, and she convinced me to get back in the game. And I did…the moment I got back to Jersey.”

The two talked a few times again after San Francisco, they’ve exchanged holiday greetings, and they’ve maintained contact via social media. But Messinger never forgot why he’d started writing again, and he never forgot that she had said to him, “One day you’ll write a leading role for me.”

“We’re coming full circle,” says the actress. And both say they couldn’t be more excited.
“Gymful Remembrances” will be a co-production between Messinger’s new production company and Nightstand Studios in Fairfield, NJ. Emmy winner Randy Rossilli is attached to direct.

The production is being funded on Kickstarter at http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0. The funding campaign ends on May 31 at 1:00 PM.

At 64, New Jersey resident tries his hand at filmmaking

Former small gym owner launches Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for movie

Bob Messinger wasn’t always interested in making movies, but he was always interested in writing them. In fact, he has five completed feature-length screenplays under his belt, three of which have won international script competitions.

So why, at 64, has Messinger made the switch from writing to filmmaking?

“It doesn’t matter how good your writing may be or how many awards you may have won,” he explains. “The sad fact is that spec scripts just don’t get made by Hollywood anymore. If you want to get your movie made these days, you have to do it yourself.”

And that’s just what Messinger hopes to do. He has recently launched a campaign on the popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter to film his award-winning script “Gymful Remembrances,” which is loosely based on his brief stint as the owner of a 24-hour gym in Parsippany, NJ. If the project is funded, he plans to shoot the movie in and around Parsippany.

According to his Kickstarter campaign page, ” ‘Gymful Remembrances’ is an award-winning screenplay featuring a somewhat quirky cast of characters, including a beleaguered small gym owner, a vengeful crow hell-bent on making him and his dog miserable, a disgraced sex therapist and a Jamaican mystic.”

Messinger describes the project as a “dramedy.”

While the story is set in a gym similar to the one he owned and deals somewhat with the ups and downs of that venture, it’s really a much more far reaching story of “baggage verses happiness,” he says.

“The characters I’ve created are a mixture of people I’ve known over the years as I’ve struggled to break my own destructive patterns and create rewarding relationships.”

Messinger, who spent most of his career as an advertising creative director, opened his 24-hour gym in Parsippany in 2007.

“Just in time for the economic downturn,” he laughs. “Timing has never been my strong point. And it’s certainly not the main character’s strength, either.”

It’s a topic Messinger says he had to approach with humor and a lot of self-deprecation.

Messinger is hoping to raise $70,000 through his Kickstarter campaign, which ends at 1:08 PM on May 31. If he doesn’t raise the full amount by that time, he gets absolutely nothing.

“We opted for Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach over other crowd-funding sites because to try to make this movie for anything less would result in a film of lesser quality,” he explains. “That just wouldn’t be fair to our supporters.”

Messinger’s goal of $70,000 is a mere pittance, considering that most Hollywood film budgets are in the millions, but he is confident that he can make a quality film for that amount. Aside from the fact that the digital age has made filmmaking easier and less costly, Messinger has also assembled a team of professionals to help him. He has partnered with Nightstand Studios in Fairfield and has enlisted the studio’s owner and Emmy winner Randy Rossilli to direct the film.

Rossilli, who also owns Nightstand Music Group, will also assist in the music and distribute the soundtrack. And singer/songwriter Shari Spiro of Netcong has already written and recorded the film’s closing song.

Cost will also be held down because most of the people working on the production, including most of the actors, will be donating their time and talents in return for film credit.

“This truly is going to be a north Jersey production,” exclaims Messinger.

A casting call will be going out as Messinger’s campaign gets close to reaching its goal.

“We’re not just taking people’s money and not giving them anything in return,” Messinger says of the Kickstarter project. “We have put together rewards at various levels in return for their support. Plus everyone who contributes gets a thank-you listing in the film’s closing credits.”

Anyone interested in supporting the film may do so by going to Kickstarter.com and searching for Gymful Remembrances, or they may just use the project’s short URL: http://kck.st/1hhCvJ0

Why else at 64 is Messinger determined to make his film?

“Let me explain it like this,” he answers. “I went to see Kevin Smith speak this weekend at the Montclair Film Festival. He explained why he maxed out his credit cards to make his first film, ‘Clerks.’ He said his compelling motivation was, ‘If I don’t get to do this, I think I’m gonna die.’ I fully understand.”